The teachings of Mooji

Who is Mooji?

Mooji is a spiritual teacher who is based in the UK and Portugal. His teachings cover many aspects of spirituality that are derived from all sorts of sources. However, much of what Mooji teaches is based on the Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, one which has a big focus on non-dualism. He teaches that true human experiences are pure and that they inhabit what he refers to as 'untouched spaces' from which everything else arises. Because he is devoted to teaching people to enquire about themselves more, he does not provide direct answers to spiritual questions. Instead, he poses further questions which promote greater enquiry. Mooji owns a large property in the Alentejo region of Portugal where he has established an ashram called Monte Sahaj. He also runs a UK-based charity, known as the Mooji Foundation Ltd.

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 When was Mooji born?

Mooji was born in 1954 in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He was then known as Tony Moo-Young and was raised by his father after his mother left to work in the UK when he was just one year old. After his father died when he was just eight years old, he was brought up by one of his uncles before relocating to London as a teenager to live with his mother once more. This made him part of the well-known Windrush generation of British citizens who came to settle in the UK from the Caribbean. The name of this group is so-called because of the vessel of the same name that transported many of those of this generation from former British colonies in the Caribbean Sea. By the 1980s, he was working as a street artist and had his own family and kid.

What led Mooji on his spiritual journey?

In the mid-1980s, Mooji's sister, Dorothy 'Cherry' Groce, was shot dead by Metropolitan police officers during a raid on her home when they were looking for one of her sons. This death sparked the infamous Brixton Riots in the summer of 1985. The riots had a significant impact on the UK's future domestic policy towards policing. Following this trauma, he met a Christian, which prompted him to pose some questions he had been feeling about his attitude to spirituality. Exploring this, the future spiritual leader continued to work as an art teacher before quitting in the early 1990s. This was when he decided to go to India to further his spiritual awakening. It was at this time that he met Papaji, an Indian sage, who helped to frame his spiritual outlook further while he attended Papaji's satsangs, or sacred meetings.

What is the importance of sastang for Mooji?

The concept of satsang is central to Mooji's way of teaching and exploring spirituality. While he was in India, he attended many satsang sessions himself, including those held by Papaji. By 1999, Mooji was holding his own satsang sessions in London after his return to the city of his youth. From there, he went on to stage them in numerous locations around the world. Like other spiritual leaders who have been influenced by Asian religions, Mooji's approach with satsangs is to use them to gather together people who would not otherwise be in each other's company. Furthermore, he uses them to create spiritual discourse - in other words, to talk about spiritual life. Specifically, he utilises them as a form of teaching retreat that helps people to engage with their 'true' selves as 'timeless beings'. Over the years, thousands of people have attended his satsangs and retreats.

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Which books has Mooji written?

One of Mooji's earliest publications was 'Breath of the Absolute – Dialogues with Mooji'. It came out in 2010. Since then, he has produced several a lot of literature. These include 'The Mala of God', which was published in 2014 and 'An Invitation to Freedom', which came out in 2017. It is worth noting that Mooji's book, 'Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space' has gone into print twice, once in 2016 and then again two years later with a different publisher. 'Before I Am: The Direct Recognition of Truth' is an earlier work. This is a good one to choose to read if you have no prior knowledge of Mooji's style and approach to spirituality. 'Writing on Water: Spontaneous Utterances Insights and Drawings' is another book he has penned. This first came out in 2011.

What are Mooji's thoughts on enlightenment?

To answer the question of what Mooji's thoughts are on enlightenment, you would have to say that they are extremely personalised. Unlike some spiritual leaders, Mooji does not set a great store around the idea that spiritual enlightenment is revealed to individuals by a higher spiritual power or entity. Instead, he says that enlightenment is really a question of being one's true self. Speaking in Ireland in recent years, he said that enlightenment is 'just you as your true self'. Of course, being true to oneself and expressing oneself without any spiritual or social filter is not necessarily an easy thing to do. However, this mystical approach to enlightenment does also rely on accepting his teachings, just as in his earlier life, Mooji accepted the enlightened wisdom of Papaji.

What are Mooji's teachings?

To understand what Mooji's teachings are all about, you have to first understand his main methodology – that of holding satsangs. These are not merely gatherings where people carry out spiritual rites or practices in the company of one another but offer the chance to explore 'truth'. To Mooji, this means asking questions about life, true meaning and how inner peace can be gained. When people have found the truth – or, at least, their version of it – this equates to a level of spiritual enlightenment, according to his teachings. As such, his teachings are not particularly difficult to understand, nor do they contain lots of technical jargon. His teaching method, which you could summarise as an open discourse towards the truth, is also what he is teaching as a good practice for better spiritual understanding. His teachings and the teaching method he uses, therefore, go hand in hand.

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What religion does Mooji belong to?

Raised as a Christian and instructed by his uncle, among others, in scripture, there are certain Christian values that still pervade Mooji's spiritual life. That said, it would be hard to pin him down as a devout Christian despite some influences on his teachings. After the tragic events of his life in the 1980s, Mooji said that he felt he was following the footsteps of a higher power and that he was guided by an unseen force after prayer sessions. Later, he read works by Ramana Maharshi, a Hindu sage, and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, a Bengali spiritual text. Although Mooji's own biography does not refer to a specific religious belief system, it is clear that much of his thinking is based on Hindu traditions. According to an interview he gave to the BBC in 2008, it is Advaita, the popular school of Hindu philosophy, that most influences him. At the time, he said that this was a non-doctrinal kind of religion without religion.

What is the Mooji Foundation?

Answering the question of what the Mooji Foundation is, means firstly saying that it is a UK-based registered charitable institution. According to the foundation's website, the charity seeks to bring the Advaita Vedanta tradition that Mooji has been teaching for so long to as many followers as possible. The idea is to offer a more profound and direct experience of people's true nature by collaborating with other organisations. This includes Mooji's limited company that makes media posts, videos and TV programmes, for example. The foundation also supports the work of the Monte Sahaja Centre for Self-Realisation in Portugal. Furthermore, the foundation states that it is dedicated to giving support to all those people who have been touched through one of Mooji's satsangs 'in whatever way is needed'.

What is Mooji's guided meditation like?

To explain what one of Mooji's guided meditations is like is tricky insofar as there are many of them, and they are all subtly different from one another. That said, most people find them to be calming, given that the speaker's voice is soft and relaxing. Unlike some other guided meditations, those that Mooji's media company have produced for free use tend to focus on specific issues. Overall, the spiritual leader tends to focus on the individual and their presence in the moment. There are often long gaps between the statements he makes. He encourages people not to follow their own internal thoughts but rather to give themselves to the moment. Often, the guided meditation videos you can watch have been recorded at one of his satsangs.

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How is Mooji's teachings similar to Eckart Tolle's?

In some senses, Mooji's teachings are similar to that of Eckart Tolle. Both men teach that it is best from a spiritual point of view to simply 'be'. They would both agree that what this 'being' is represents an acceptance of oneself in one's true form. In Mooji's teaching, this would mean being able to perceive activities, form and time but being beyond them in some sense. Both men had spiritual awakenings later in life, and that has informed their style of teaching. Both reference the Bible but are essentially non-Christian in their approach. Equally, both teachers have – perhaps unfairly – been criticised for synthesising traditional spiritual beliefs into 'mumbo-jumbo'. Both use in-person and video methods for teaching. Some people choose to combine their teachings, but there are different emphases and priorities between the two.

What does the name Mooji mean?

It is unclear why Anthony Paul Moo-Young adopted the name Mooji, but it is probably that this was a nickname based on his surname. When he moved to Brixton, he became widely known as Tony Moo, so it is perhaps easy to see why his spiritual name might have been adapted from a nickname given to him as a teenager. Some say that the name is derived from a Sanskrit word. In Hindi, there is a similar word in usage today that translates as moon. In this sense, Mooji's name might have another meaning that adds to his spirituality or sense of universality. However, many people simply accept it as his chosen form of address with no further meaning that needs to be ascribed to it.

Where is Mooji's ashram?

Mooji's ashram is located in Portugal. The spiritual teacher bought a property of some 30 or so hectares in the parish of São Martinho das Amoreiras to build a facility he could use as a spiritual retreat, or ashram. The centre is located in the Alentejo region of Portugal, which is in the southern part of the country. The ashram he created is called Monte Sahaja. According to Shree Montenegro, the General Manager of Mooji's charitable foundation, at any one time, there may be as many as fifty or so people living at Monte Sahaja on a full-time basis. The ashram lies about a two-hour drive from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. Alternatively, it can be reached from the city of Faro in about ninety minutes.

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Mooji in summary

Despite there being some dissent about his spiritual teachings in some quarters, Mooji's reputation as a leader and spiritual teacher is undiminished in the eyes of many of his followers. Lots of people consider him and his teachings to be extremely accessible. As such, he offers plenty of people who may not have considered themselves to be particularly spiritual before the chance to explore this side of themselves in a way that they feel comfortable doing. Part of his success, it seems, is that he is very honest about the sort of spiritual journey he has been on himself, with his Christian upbringing and later development as a more Hindu-influenced spiritual leader.

One of the key things to take on board about Mooji's teaching is that it places the spirituality of people in their own hands. For example, he refers to the deeper truth in us all as being something that can be discovered through the concept of the God-self. In other words, people do not have to rely on an external spiritual superstructure – as most big religions do – to gain valuable spiritual insights. Instead, he teaches that acceptance of oneself is also to accept one's own spirituality. Mooji has travelled all over the world to teach this understanding of self, primarily in the UK, Portugal and India. Overall, his teachings are known for having near-universal appeal and that they place people beyond the judgement of others as well as what he calls 'the grip' of personal conditioning.

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